Be a 'funny valentine' to promote health

This year the Compeer Program at Far West Center is celebrating Valentine’s Day by holding a Friendship Lunch and Games Day. Our members and volunteers are welcome to attend and have lunch together and participate in a choice of games. No one is expected to bring Valentine’s cards, flowers or candy.

Our Valentine’s Day gift exchange will be special and one which will benefit both mental and physical health. All that is asked is to bring along a sense of humor! We will be sharing conversation that will result in laughter. Laughter is our very special gift to each other and one which we suggest for everyone. 

“Laughter is the best medicine” is a commonly used saying. But did you know that laughter can physically warm your heart? When a person laughs it improves the function of blood vessels which in turn improves blood flow to the heart. If the gift of laughter is given as often as the gift of candy it could help protect the heart of someone you hold dear by helping prevent heart disease.

When someone is laughing he or she is changing the focus of thinking from daily stressors to cheerful thoughts. Laughter actually decreases the release of harmful hormones that are triggered by stress. In this way laughter on a regular basis can help improve one’s immune system over time. Receiving flowers can provide days of beauty but laughter could help prevent sneezing and the flu. 

What is Valentine’s Day without some chocolate? Chocolate is an excellent gift and releases those “feel good” endorphins in your brain. Laughing also releases those wonderful endorphins! Paul E. McGhee, a pioneering humor and laughter researcher, stated: “Your sense of humor is one of the most powerful tools you have to make certain that your daily mood and emotional state support good health.” May we remind you that laughter has no calories?

A more familiar name, comedian Milton Berle, said: “Laughter is an instant vacation.” Laughing does provide relaxation to our muscles much like a taking vacation can. So in a sense you can give someone a mini vacation by being funny and avoid the stress of trying to find less expensive air fare. 

If you are interested in giving a gift that you can wrap up for someone consider buying tickets to see a comedy at Clague Playhouse in Westlake or Huntington Playhouse in Bay Village. Another way is to give a humorous gift is to find comedy recordings, movie DVDs, or books at local stores. Low on cash? You can borrow and share comedies from Westlake Porter Public Library or Bay Village Library. 

There are many websites that can provide you with information on the health benefits of laughter. On YouTube you can find a variety of funny videos to share with the people you care about. Also there are websites that offer good jokes to help you be a “funny Valentine.”

If you would like to have fun with the Compeer Program at Far West Center please call 440-835-6212, ext. 242.

Denise Ayres

The Compeer Program has been serving adults that are managing mental illness from our Far West Center office fo almost 21 years! The Compeer Program is a branch of Compeer, Inc., an international organization. Compeer matches adult volunteers with same gender adult consumers of mental health services to provide friendship, emotional support, and encouragement.

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Volume 5, Issue 3, Posted 10:24 AM, 02.05.2013